2019 Fantasy Football: Miami Dolphins Expanded Team Outlook

Shawn Childs

Miami Dolphins

The three-year experiment with Adam Gase ended with a 23-25 record and one playoff appearance. The Dolphins only have two playoff appearance over the last 17 seasons. Miami stole a piece of the Patriots system by bringing in Brian Flores to take over as the head coach.

Flores worked in New England’s system for 15 years with a variety of jobs. Over the last eight seasons, Brian worked on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive assistant, safeties coach, and linebackers coach. He’s been a part of four Super Bowl winnings teams and seven AFC Championships. Flores will be making a significant step up in job.

Patrick Graham will take over as the defensive coordinator. He has ties as well to the Patriots (seven years) while spending the previous three seasons with the Giants (defensive line coach) and the Packers (linebacker coach).

Miami named Chad O’Shea as the offensive coordinator. The common theme in 2019 for Miami’s new coaching staff is pulling away from the Patriots’ staff. O’Shea has been the wide receivers coach for New England for the last decade. Chad has six other seasons of experience coaching in the NFL.

Last year the Dolphins ranked 31st in offensive yards gain and 26th in points scored (319). They scored 38 more points than 2017 (281), but their defense allowed 40 more points. Miami allowed 433 points (27th) with a poor ranking as well in yards allowed (29th).

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Free Agency

The most significant move in the offseason came in a draft day trade when they acquire QB Josh Rosen from the Cardinals for a second-round draft pick. Rosen should take over as the starter while getting a clean slate in Miami. The Dolphins also signed QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and QB Jake Rudock to compete for the backup job.

Miami added Dwayne Allen and Clive Walford to improve the talent behind TE Mike Gesicki. The only other skill players added to the offense were RB Kenneth Farrow and WR Ricardo Louis. Both players offer no impact value.

The Dolphins moved on from QB Brock Osweiler, QB David Fales, RB Frank Gore, RB Senorise Perry, RB Brandon Bolden, WR Danny Amendola, WR Leonte Carroo, and TE A.J. Derby.

They lost two starters off their offensive line – T Ja’Wuan James and G Ted Lawson. James was a former first-round draft pick (2014) who failed to live up to expectations. At best, he was a league average player when James was on top of his game. Lawson has never been an asset on the offensive line in his nine years in the league.

DE Cameron Wake took his pass rushing prowess to the Titans, but he’s at the end of his career at age 37. Miami signed five players to their defense – DE Tank Carradine, LB Jayrone Elliott, LB TyroneHolmes, CB Eric Rowe, and CB Jomal Wiltz. None of these players are expected to start in 2019.

Draft

In the 2019 NFL Draft, Miami has only six draft picks with two coming over the first three rounds. They selected DT Christian Wilkins with the 13th overall pick in the first round. Wilkens relies on his quickness and athletic ability to make plays in the center of the defensive line. He doesn’t have the strength to a foundation run stopper if he loses his edge after the snap. Endurance can be an issue if worked too hard with a game. His game does offer upside if he adds a better anchor to his small piece of real estate on the field.

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The Dolphins invested in G Michael Deiter in the third round. His game has risk vs. power defenders in pass protection. It’s almost like his value takes a step back when the bully gets bullied. Deiter works hard, but his upside is limited. His experience at multiple positions helps his playable value at the next level.

LB Andrew Van Ginkel was the choice in the fifth round. Short area quickness and change of direction are his best two skills entering the NFL. Van Ginkel works much better when receiving a free run at the oncoming ball carrier. He’ll struggle with bigger bodies while lacking the fight to win the tight battles at the line of scrimmage if asked to rush the QB. Playable piece, which may make more sense on passing downs or on special teams.

With their sixth-round pick, the Dolphins drafted T Isaiah Prince. For a big man (6’6” and 305 lbs.), Prince earns his best edge early after the snap in a quick hitting run game. His overall foundation skill set isn’t complete while lacking technique and possibly more bulk. He needs to let the game come to him to help his timing under fire. More of a project than a starter early in his career.

With the last two picks in the seventh round, Miami threw darts at the running back position – ChandlerCox and Myles Gaskin. Cox is a pure fullback with no upside in touches in the NFL. Gaskins is strong for his size (5’9” and 205 lbs.) with a good feel for open space plus the vision to see daylight developing. Myles gets in trouble when he fails to attack the first level of the defense when faced with tight quarters.

Offensive Line

Miami ranked 25th in rushing attempts (371) in the NFL in 2018 leading to the 18th ranking in rushing yards (1,788) with 12 rushing TDs. Their offensive line allowed 52 sacks and 107 QB hits. The Dolphins placed 30th in passing yards (2,900) with 26 TDs and 13 Ints.

LT Laremy Tunsil continues to improve as pass blocker where he can now best considered a slight edge. His run blocking is trailing after three years of experience in the NFL. He has an excellent combination of technique, foot quickness, and vision while needing to add some strength to his lower body. In 2017, he made the switch from guard to left tackle a position he played in college. Tunsil has Pro Bowl talent, which would be helped by the better talent around him on the offensive line along with the skill players on offense.

LG Isaac Asiata hasn’t played a down in the NFL after getting drafted in the 5th round in 2017. His best asset is his strength, but it’s almost like he’s looking to show his punch rather than make the best play. Isaac works hard, and he'll bring nastiness to his position. His game has a chance to improve significantly if/when he used his strength more as a counter to the defender, which will lead to fewer mistakes. Asiata has a lot to prove while being a wide load (6’3” and 345 lbs.) to push around.

C Daniel Kilgore has eight years of experience in the NFL, but most of the time he’s been a below-par option as starting center. Miami acquired him a deal with the 49ers in March of 2018 after he signed a three-year contract with San Fran in February. He’ll be paid like a starter, so it’s his job to lose. His season ended last year in Week 4 with a triceps injury. In his limited playing time, Daniel was a liability in all areas.

RG Jesse Davis started all 16 games in 2018, but he didn’t produce winning stats in any area. He allowed too many saves while putting the QB in duress about four times a game. Below par player who lacks pedigree to keep the starting job long-term.

RT Isaiah Prince may not be ready to be a starter in the NFL, but he looks like the better option for 2019 while being drafted by the new coaching staff. His pass protection skills do have risk while expecting Prince to win many battles in the run game.

Not one player on the offensive line will rank in the top half of the league at his position. Tunsil has the most talent, but weakness next to him on the line creates too much inconsistency from week-to-week or even in games. I’ll rank Miami on the bottom quarter of the league on the offensive line.

Offensive Schedule

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The above data shows the strength of schedule as far as rushing attempts (RATT), rushing yards (YDS), yards per attempt rushing (YA), rushing touchdowns (TDs), completions (COMP), passing attempts (PATT), passing yards (YDS), yards per attempt passing (YA), and passing touchdowns (TDS).

This information is based on 2018, which will work as our starting point for 2019. We’ll look at all the changes on offense on each team in the NFL plus the upgrades and downgrades on each team on the defensive side. We’ll update this table when we finish the research on all 32 teams.

2018 LG Average = the league average of all stats from all 32 teams in 2018.

2018 Results = this is the results for each team in the NFL.

2018 Adjustment is based on the 2018 league average and the 2018 results for each team, this number will show if each team is above or below the league average in each stat category and the basis for the strength of schedule.

Miami has four matchups (BAL, PHI, DAL, and PIT) vs. teams that played well against the run in 2018. They only have two favorable contest for their rushing offense. Overall, their run schedule ranks below the league average.

The Dolphins have three games (BAL and BUF x 2) vs. teams that played well defending the pass last year. Their best two games passing the ball will come against the Eagles and the Bengals. They have a below-par pass schedule.

Offense

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The Dolphins tried to become more balanced on offense last year, which led to a 45/55 percent split in run and pass plays compared to 38/62 in 2017.

Miami gained an impressive 4.7 yards per rush last year, but they only scored seven rushing TDs with 12 rushes over 20 yards. The Dolphins averaged only 23.2 runs per game due to losing many games.

Last year they finished with the third lowest number of passing attempts (455) in the league with reasonable passing TDs (26) while completing 64.2 percent of their passes.

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Quarterbacks

Josh Rosen – In his rookie season, Rosen started 13 games. He finished with a 3-10 record with weakness in his completion rate (55.2) and yards per pass attempt (5.8) while throwing more Ints (14) than TDs (11). Over his last five starts, Josh only tossed one TD, but he did lower his mistakes (three Ints). Over this stretch, Rosen took 21 of his 45 sacks. He had over one TD in two games (252/2 and 136/3) with both games coming at home. His opportunity to pass the ball won’t be better in 2019 or play behind a better offensive line. I expect growth in his game while expecting him to be more of a game manager than an attractive Fantasy option in the season-long games. Miami still has a below-par core of receivers. Just for reference, here’s a look at his college scouting report written by me in 2018:

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Over two and half seasons at UCLA, Rosen passed for 9,340 yards with 59 TDs and 26 Ints. His running ability is minimal in rushing plays, but he can sneak a TD or even extend some drives with his legs. He played many snaps from under center where he was a much better timing passer while adding ball fakes to move the deep safeties. Josh will make good pre-snap reads while getting the ball out quickly in his dropbacks from center. At the goal line, Rosen can throw fades on the outside or challenge the middle of the field with accuracy. His arm strength is below the NFL average, and he does have a history of injuries (shoulder in 2016 and two concussion in 2017). I like his pro feel, so he should improve quickly if given a starting opportunity.

Ryan Fitzpatrick – 2018 was a fun year for Fitzpatrick when he had a chance to start for the Bucs. He passed for over 400 yards in his first three games (417, 402, and 411) while delivering 12 combined TDs over this span. His play did take a step back in his other four starts (126/0, 243/4, 406/0, and 167/0) when Ryan threw more Ints (8) than TDs (4). Overall, his success showed Fitzpatrick could still play in the NFL if given enough receiving talent around him. He has a 50-75-1 record in his career with 190 TDs and 148 Ints. Only a backup going forward plus Miami lacks the skill in the passing game that Tampa showcased in 2018. His experience will work if asked to start over short stretches or make a late relief appearance.

Other Options: Jake Rudock

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Running Backs

Kenyan Drake – Fantasy owners came away with a bad feeling about Drake in 2018. Miami gave too many carries to Frank Gore, which led to many low output games by Kenyan. In the end, he still ranked 14th in RB scoring in PPR leagues despite emptiness in Week 3 (3.00), Week 4 (2.60), Week 10 (5.80), and Week 15 (6,40) in Fantasy points. Drake offset some of his down showings by scoring 20+ Fantasy points in three games (24.50, 23.50, and 26.60) with each game coming in the road. Kenyan ended the year with 1,012 combined yards on 173 touches with nine TDs and 53 catches. He gained 4.5 yards per rush and 9.0 per catch, which shows his explosiveness. Despite success in catches, Drake struggled in pass protection leading to too many sacks (6) over the last nine games of the season. I like what he brings to the table when the ball is in his hands, but Kenyan has to want to be an every-down back to reach and impact level. I expect him to split touches again this year, which will help keep him fresh. If he figures out the mental game in pass protection while adding some fight in the trenches, Fantasy owners would be thrilled with his upside. I’ll raise his bar to 225 touches this year (ten runs per game with about four catches per week), which will lead to 1,200 combined yards with eight to ten TDs.

Kalen BallageOver his final four seasons at Arizona State, Ballage rushed for 1,858 yards with 76 catches and 26 TDs while playing time with other RBs. His best success came in his junior season (1,005 combined yards with 15 TDs and 44 catches. Kalen gained only 4.4 yards per rush in his college career. Power type runner with some pass-catching ability. His lack of a full-time job in college sets a lower bar in the NFL. In his 12 games of limited action in 2018, Ballege looked explosive at times. He gained 5.3 yards per rush, but 75 of his 191 yards came on one play. Over his other 35 runs, Kalen gained only 3.3 yards per carry. He chipped in with nine catches for 56 yards. His best two games came in Week 15 (12/123/1) and Week 17 (12/47). Last year Frank Gore had 168 touches for Miami. I expect his window to be between eight to ten touches per game. Ballage is the big back in this offense with a chance to be the favorite at the goal line for TDs. More of an insurance policy than a playable option.

Update 8/6/2019: Kalen Ballage missed some time in late July with a minor injury. Miami looks to be positioning him to be the bulk runner on early downs while Kenyan Drake works as the change of pace back with his best value coming on passing downs. I’m not ready to bump him up the cheat sheet, but I can’t dismiss his better than expected early season opportunity.

Myles Gaskin – Based on experience running the ball, a Fantasy power won’t find a player in this year’s draft with a better resume. Over four seasons at Washington a starter, Gaskin average over 250 touches per year leading 5,888 combined yards with 62 TDs and 65 catches. Myles checked in at 5’9” and 205 lbs. at this seasons NFL combine. His strength (24 reps in the bench press) graded will while coming up a bit short in speed (4.58 40 yards dash) and quickness compared to the top RBs in the NFL. Gaskin sees the field well with the first step to get through tight holes. His short legs don’t match his frame, but his quick steps help him weave his way through traffic. Myles didn’t get many chances in the passing game while showing pass-catching hands. More than a change of pace back. I would rather own him as a handcuff to Kenyan Drake than Kalen Ballage. Gaskin needs to prove himself in pass protection.

Other Options: Kenneth Farrow

Wide Receivers

Kenny Stills – After playing well in 2017 (58/847/6), Stills never developing into a playable WR3 last year. His season started with a great game (4/106/2), but Kenny failed to catch more than passes in 13 of his next 14 games. His only other game of value on the year came in Week 13 (8/135/1). Stills gained fewer than 30 yards receiving in nine games. His catch rate (57.8) fell in line with his career resume (58.1). Over the last three seasons with Miami, Kenny scored 21 TDs in 47 games while averaging 15.5 yards per catch. There’s more here than his production last year if Miami can show improvement in the passing game. More of a WR5 for me in PPR leagues while being priced higher than I’m willing to pay. Upside of 60/900/6 if the breaks right for him.

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DeVante Parker – After taking three months off from football to do baseball research, I was stunned to see Parker still on the Dolphins’ roster. Over his first four years in the NFL, DeVante has 163 catches for 2,217 yards and nine TDs on 280 targets while starting 31 of 54 games. Last year he played himself into a bench role, which led to his worst season (24/309/1 on 47 targets) of his career. Working in his favor in 2019 is a new coaching staff along with a change at quarterback. Parker battled a quad issue early in the season plus a shoulder injury in November. Based on his stats in 2016 (56/744/4) and 2017 (57/670/1), a Fantasy owner can still dream of a season of value in 2019. More of flier if the summer reports are positive. Start the bidding at 50 catches for 600 yards with a chance to surprise in TDs.

Albert Wilson – The training camp noise last season painted Wilson as possible value WR in 2018. Over his first four years in the NFL with the Chiefs, he caught 124 passes for 1,544 yards and eight TDs on 198 targets. His game did show growth in 2017 (42/554/3). Albert started last season as rotational receiver over the first three games (8/142/2 on 11 targets) before earning three starts over the next four games. He flashed in the sixth game (6/155/2) setting up a waiver wire frenzy. Unfortunately, a hip injury ended his season the following week. Wilson didn’t need surgery, but his recovery to full strength will be slow. His stats (26/391/4) over seven games last year project over an entire season would come to 59 catches for 893 yards and nine TDs. Keep an open mind plus follow his injury progress before making your draft day evaluation.

Update 8/6/2019: Albert Wilson was healthy enough to start the year off the PUP list, but his progress remains limited heading into early August. His direction gives him a chance to be on the field for opening day, but Wilson may have a limited opportunity out of the gate.

Allen Hurns - Miami signed Allen Hurns in late July for WR depth after playing poorly in 2018 for the Cowboys (20/295/2). Hurns flashed in 2015 for the Jaguars (64/1031/10), but injuries in 2016 and 2017 led to regression in his game. Allen is young enough to surprise, but he is nothing more than a waiver-wire option in the Fantasy Market.

Other Options: Brice Butler, Jakeem Grant, Ricardo Louis, Isaiah Ford, Reece Horn

Tight Ends

Mike Gesicki – In his first season in the NFL, Gesicki can go down as almost a no show. He caught 22 of his 32 targets for 202 yards and no TDs while starting seven games. Over the last eight games of the season, Mike only caught six balls for 56 yards on ten targets. In his previous two seasons at Penn State, Gesicki caught 105 passes for 1,242 yards and 15 TDs. He projects to be a pass catching TE with plus hands and upside in route running. Mike offers no value in blocking game leading to him having a rotational role in his rookie season. Gesicki needs to prove he can handle tight press coverage. In 2018, the Dolphins’ TEs caught only 39 catches for 386 yards and two TDs on 56 targets. Talent dictates opportunity. Gesicki failed to develop last season, but his starting point can't be higher than the TE chances over the previous two years. The change in coaching staff should lead to a bump in TE targets, but he can’t be drafted higher than a TE3 in PPR leagues.

Update 8/6/2019: In early August, Mike Gesicki hasn’t made an impact in training camp. His lack of improvement is pushing him off Fantasy draft sheets in deeper leagues.

Other Options: Dwayne Allen, Nick O’Leary, Clive Walford, Durham Smythe

Kicker

Jason Sanders – Miami only scored 38 TDs last year while creating 20 field goal tries. Sanders made the most of his limited opportunities by making 90 percent of his chances. He went 7-for-9 from 40 to 49 yards and 1-for-1 over 50 yards. Jason missed one of his 36 extra point tries. His success would draw attention if he played for a higher scoring team. Only a waiver wire option with a chance to be playable in a couple of games at home.

Defensive Schedule

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Miami’s defense faces one team (BAL) with a potent rushing offense. Over the last 14 games of the year, most of their matchups come vs. teams with league average or below success running the ball. Their rush schedule is slightly above par.

Their toughest matchup in the passing game based on last year’s stats will be the Steelers followed up by the Colts, the Eagles, the Giants, and the Patriots (2). The Dolphins do have eight games vs. teams with weakness throwing the ball.

Defense

Miami finished 131th in rushing yards (2,325) in 2018 with ball carriers gaining 4.8 yards per rush. They allowed 17 rushing TDs with rushers gaining over 20 yards on 20 runs. The Dolphins ranked 21st in passing yards allowed (3,932) with QBs tossing 31 TDs with 21 Ints. Their defense record only 31 sacks.

CB Xavien Howard continues to improve as a player. Last year he set a career high in interceptions (7) with 12 defended passes and 35 tackles. He held WRs to a low catch rate while giving up the occasional long play and some TDs. S Minkah Fitzpatrick played well in his rookie season. He added value in run support while minimizing the damage in TDs. Fitzpatrick finished with 80 tackles, two Ints, nine defended passes, and one TD. CB Cordrea Tankersley played well in his first year in the NFL in 2017 (seven defended passes and 31 tackles), but he missed most of last season with a knee injury (torn ACL).

S Reshad Jones regressed in his last two seasons after ranking highly at his position for three of the previous five years. His value in coverage is sliding while also losing some of his past success as a run defender. S T.J. Fitzpatrick played the best ball of his career last year thanks to improvement defending the run. He will miss many tackles plus allow a high catch rate.

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LB Raekwon McMillan grades well as a run defender, but he didn’t record a sack in his first season of action. Offenses picked on him in coverage where McMillian allowed a high catch rate and too many TDs. LB Kiko Alonso led Dolphins’ defense in snaps helping him 125 tackles, three Ints, and six defended passes. Even with plenty of stats, Alonso struggled in coverage with almost no value rushing the QB. LB Jerome Baker handled himself well in his first year in the league. He finished with 79 tackles, three sacks, one Int, three defended passes, and one TD. Baker played better than expected against the run with some risk in coverage.

DE Charles Harris is former first-round pick (2017). Over his two seasons in the NFL, Harris has three sacks and 38 tackles in limited snaps. His game needs to make a huge step forward with Miami lacking a pass rusher on the outside of their defensive line. The Dolphins don’t have another viable option to producer sacks on the other side of the field. DT Christian Wilkins will hopefully slow down the run game after getting drafted in the first round in 2019. He comes into the league with a disrupter style, but he can struggle with beefy offensive linemen.

With a minimal pass rush and question success defending the run at the first level of the defense, Miami is going to have failure risk in games when they fall behind early. The Dolphins have talent at LB and in the secondary. Overall, I don’t expect this defense to be an attractive Fantasy option.

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